Tuesday, July 4, 2017
The Testarossa Story and The Love Of Speed
~~~~~The Love Of Speed Is Something You Just Can't Explain
How do you explain the love of cars to people who don't understand? Maybe you can't. Maybe people either get it or they don't. In this beautifully-worded essay, Kinja user Kenkupchik says what we've all felt at one time or another: an indescribable love of cars and an inability to explain it to those who don't get it.
You Wouldn't Understand
I don't get upset when they say "it's just a car." You can't teach someone a new language in minutes. And technically it is just a car. But don't car lovers see something more? My family fled Soviet Russia in 1988 and spent a year in Vienna, waiting for a country to accept us and for someone to sponsor our VISA. I was five years old and my parents spent a stressful year trying to get us to America, literally refugees. What I remember from that year is walking at night with my father and stopping at the Ferrari dealership to press my face against the glass for a better look. I remember the Ferrari Testarossa in rosso corsa. By the end of the year I could name the make and model of every car I saw just by the headlights.
Twenty five years later I still stop and stare at a Ferrari. When you're a car lover, that doesn't change, ever. Cars aren't the sum of my life but they're an element of my identity, and a part of every milestone. I walked to work at Dunkin Donuts for two years after school to save up for a Subaru Impreza while my friends played video games. On the morning of my 16th birthday I got my driver's license and never looked back. I was on my own and doing everything that lucky teenagers get to do in America.
Through high school I had the Subaru, a Volkswagen Corrado G60 and a Toyota Celica all of which I still remember like old friends. They were with me through my moments of triumph when the girl wanted me in the same way I wanted her and my defeats when I felt humiliated the way only someone in high school could understand. They stayed parked on wooded suburban streets, patiently waiting for me in line with the cars of other kids while we partied in someone's house whose parents were gone for the weekend. They were my escape, when I could put on a CD and just drive by myself, a world of opportunity still in front of me. I wish I still had every single one of them, but friends come and go.
I don't live in a big city because I refuse to leave the open road. I want to get in and chart my own course with 3 pedals, not a MetroCard. I want to feel the possibility of something more. I want to be every guy that ever looked at his car and been grateful that such a magnificent machine ended up in his hands, in that one moment of pure bliss. I want to be back in 1977 in a Trans Am with Sally Field showing off her legs on the dashboard. I want my heart to beat faster when Daniel Craig downshifts his DBS in the opening seconds of Quantum of Solace.
But you wouldn't understand. You wouldn't understand why I'm still talking to you about your Audi. You like it and think it's cool but it's just a car and you'd rather talk about sports. You wouldn't understand why when a Gallardo passes me on the highway I turn my neck any way I can to catch a better glimpse. It's just a car. And you wouldn't understand why I'd take a pay cut and rearrange my life and switch industries just to be closer to car culture, because to you it's just a car. I can't explain it to you either and the only people who understand are other car lovers. But I can tell you that the sense of awe I got from seeing that Testarossa hasn't faded one bit in a quarter of a century, and as a 5 year old, that permission to wonder at a car wasn't for the sake of anyone else. Because it isn't just a car to some of us.
~~~~~BMW's Paul Rosche must go down as one of
the most influential engine designers this
century. He's been with BMW around 40
years, and I think it's fitting that he should be
remembered on his retirement. He's up there with
Alfa's Vittono Jano and Ferrari's Gioacchini
Colombo; he just happened to work in a more
modern era. There's an important thing that's
dying alongside Paul retiring, too: the big
company guru. Paul was a guru, an example to
the young engineers. He could do virtually
anything he liked within BMW. He built Fl
engines on the OT, and he could experiment,
because BMW Motorsport didn't operate like a
large company. He was one of the old-school
engineers: hands-on, with fantastic ideas and
theoretical knowledge and, above all, real depth
I've known him for 25 years. We had an
incredibly successful time together with no
arguments, few misunderstandings and very few
mistakes through all the Formula One years, and
during the McLaren Fl engine programme, which
was fraught from a timescale point of view. By the
time Paul said we could do the Fl engine, it was a
year behind. But his guys had a runner 13 months
after the first discussion.
I remember back in 1983, when McLaren won
the Fl championship. During practice at the old
Kyalami circuit, we had this engine upside down in
the grass the night before the race, with the crank
out because ofa problem. Paul took the cylinder
head off and found that it was something to do
with the mixture control, and fixed it. And that
was the weekend we won the championship.
He had a fantastic relationship with Nelson
Piquet, too. He took the practical jokes Nelson
used to play on him tremendously well for a man
in his position. Paul usually took a nap after lunch;
he used to curl up in his 7-series for 15 minutes.
One day, Nelson tank-taped up all the doors so
Paul couldn't get out and left a window slightly
open. Then he found me in the pits and asked:
'What do I need to make smoke?' I told him an oily
rag that's not quite on fire. So he got a rag, dipped
it in oil and chucked it in the car, and of course Paul
woke up and couldn't get out.
That sort of thing used to happen alongside the
hard work. There was a camaraderie that you don't
find among senior people. A character like that is
'Rosche wouldn't always do things in a measured, scientific
way. It the engine blew up, it blew up' someone who can be
pleasant but powerful and knowledgeable and still enjoy a bit
of fun. And he would always do things in a measured,
scientific, Germanic way. He'd take the wastegate
off, or give the engine more advance, or spray
some water on it. If it blew up, it blew up.
The 318 block we used to use was absolutely
standard up to 1lOObhp. But if we took the
wastegate off, that was really hanging the engine
out. If it made a lap, it made 1300 horsepower.
But we often broke an engine in half lengthways.
Paul looked at the cross-section between the main
bearing ribs (this web stops the head pulling off
the block), and there wasn't enough strength
there. We could make a new pattern for a block
mid-season, so he did a quick mod when the block
was cast, using a bit of wood to scratch away the
sandcast to make a thicker web.
For me, he is the father of modern BMW
engines. He did the classic six-cylinder engine and
the four-valve versions of the bigger six. He
developed reliable, high specific output engines,
and nobody had done that in the early days of
BMW. He could build long-stroke engines that
revved without flying to pieces and still deliver
great chunks of torque. He started telemetry with
Bosch, too. Back in 1981-82, it was a biscuit tin you
could put your grandmother in (and which just
relayed engine revs and temperatures), but he
became very influential in engine mapping.
When we were specifying the Fl road car
engine, for instance, I wanted the pick-up to be as
instantaneous as possible, which was why I used a
carbon clutch - three kilos instead of 10. Then we
thought about having no flywheel, and one of his
chief engineers said: 'We can't build an engine
without one.' Paul turned to him and said: 'Have
you ever designed an engine without a flywheel
before?' The guy said no, and Paul replied: 'Well,
don’t say that until you have.'
Nobody's going to build an engine like the Fl's
6.0-litre V12 again - an engine that revs like that
and drives like that, with instantaneous response,
meets Californian emissions and wins Le Mans first
time out. For me, it's the ultimate road car engine.
I'm sure Paul is going to go on and design more,
but this is the end of his BMW business. That's how
I'd like to remember his career with BMW.